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Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell
Viveca Greene

I missed this conversation as it was happening and just stumbled on it. I wrote a piece on the Norton/West debate and Tosh’s rape joke (with Raul Perez) a few years ago really appreciate this discussion. There’s much to say about the debate and I agree wholeheartedly with your point, Stephanie, about comedy’s masculine norms and Norton being funny (to some) and West appearing as humorless (to others), and how irritating it is to see debate framed as “feminist v. comic” (as though one can’t be both). Notably, the studio audience laughs with Norton and claps/cheers with West. But it’s the Bakhtin piece of the discussion that really intrigues me here…

Humor scholars frequently invoke Bakhtin’s concept of the carnivalesque in their discussions of comedic performances that engage with social and cultural issues, but in many cases I see examples of comedy that are grotesque inversions of Bakhtin’s category. (Daniel Tosh does *not* displace hierarchical relations thru a display of excess, but rather gleefully mocks society’s least powerful groups.) Is there published work that addresses what Ben alludes to above: how 4chan users, Twitter trolls, and the Alt-Right might be understood in light of the carnivalesque? My students consistently love the idea of carnival when I teach it, but I always point out that it sounds like a very unsafe place to be, esp for women and women of color (definitely very rapey)—and so it is for many on social media, where billingsgate, grotesque realism, etc flourish. Anyway, if any of you have written about any of this (or related issues), or know someone who has, or maybe would like to, I’d love to know. [I know Stephanie through SCMS, I’d love to read your work, Ben, and I’ve been teaching your Chappelle audience study for years, Lisa!]

Doritos Blaze vs. Mtn Dew Ice Teaser

Justin, thank you for this insightful comment. I definitely think your point about deflecting from the sports-ness of the game is valid, particularly given the extent to which, as you noted, the ads are an event with few barriers to entry. Further, I wonder if the combination of teasers for ads, CBS’ Super Bowl ad retrospective specials, and press coverage of the ads, particularly that which serves to rank or evaluate the ads on their effectiveness is helping foster a form of sports/advertising cross pollination that is successful specifically because it creates a competition whose presence within the news cycle is nearly as enduring and high profile as that of the on the field game.

Doritos Blaze vs. Mtn Dew Ice Teaser
Justin aDams Burton

The idea that these kinds of teasers “deflect from the ‘ad-ness’” of the commercials is interesting, as it seems to work in the other direction, too: the advertising bonanza that is the Super Bowl deflects from the “sports-ness” of the game. I notice that instead of pursuing something like “Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice perfectly complement one another” (like the “Coke and food” commercials), this ad is emulating a sportsy competitiveness that depends on the adversarial nature of the game that surrounds its airing, like a slightly less on-the-nose Bud Bowl. And of course the Super Bowl pulls in viewers who care nothing about football because the on-the-field game part of the event can be entirely inconsequential to one’s experience, if need be. It feels like this Doritos/MD teaser is a good example of the cross-pollination of sports and advertising that conditions the Super Bowl.

Spring Duvall

The Woody Allen case is really fascinating because it shows how a key mechanism for powerful men to maintain their careers and defend themselves against accusers has been to render those women “crazy, “unstable,” and therefore unbelievable. In Allen’s case, it was all too easy for him and his publicity team to convince audiences, actors, producers, and so on, that Mia Farrow was not to be believed and that the accusations from her daughter Dylan were all to be blamed on those typical insults slung at women and girls - they are jealous, delusional, conniving. The status quo gives the accused the benefit of the doubt, so is it any wonder that young actors would find it easier to disregard the accusations and take the prestigious role rather than believe the accusations and turn down opportunities to further there careers? Weinstein, it’s been revealed, went to extremes to discredit potential accusers - including not on McGowan, but also Mira Sorvino and Anne Heche and Ashley Judd and others by using a similar tactic - spreading rumors that they were impossible to work with, unstable, and untrustworthy. They exploited the willingness of people around them to give them that benefit of the doubt while treating accusers as delusional. I think that one of the things #MeToo (and in fact, perhaps very potently and relatedly the U.S. Gymnastics case) reveals is the extent to which the path of least resistance involved many, many, many people just ignoring accusations in order to move through the entertainment industry. That is a form of complicity that some are waking up to and seem genuinely regretful about, but it still did immense damage by enabling serial predators.

David Safin

A branch narrative of the #MeToo movement has been the wave of actors and actresses expressing regret for their work with Woody Allen, most notably Greta Gerwig.

In Gerwig’s statement, she said, “if I had known then (2012) what I know now,” but hasn’t Allen’s behavior been common knowledge for decades? Didn’t all of these actors go in knowing exactly who they were working with, but turned a blind eye in favor of indy film credibility? Or should we take their expressions of regret with all sincerity?

Or is there some middle ground?

How do you feel about that?

David Safin

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right to not tolerate the intolerant.”

Thank you for your post!

Love is forbidden here
Spring Duvall

Having read the book and closely watched Moss navigate the current #MeToo climate, I am struck by how her initial response echoes the years and years of celebrities claiming to be “humanist not feminist” in their attempts to avoid controversy. It’s the equivalent of “I’m not a feminist, but …” mentalities that have been so pervasive in public discourse. However, as the show circulated through paratexts - and as social media responses and critiques abound - the opportunity to discuss (as Deborah rightly points out above!) seems to have shifted Moss’ own relationship with feminism. By the time she won at the Golden Globes, her speech was heralded as a significant feminist moment (see here for example: https://slate.com/arts/2018/01/elisabeth-moss-quotes-margaret-atwood-in-...). It has been compelling to witness not only Moss’ shift from standard celebrity rejection of “feminist” label to ardent supporter of #MeToo in such a short time - it does seem to indicate that this is one more example (#BlackLivesMatter being the other that I am researching) in which public discourse and social media pressures can possibly contribute to educating and swaying celebrities towards solidarity with social justice movements.

Legion M logo
Suzanne Scott

You’re absolutely right, all fans are defacto “funders” of media content, so it’s the promise to not only direct fund (and thus potentially profit from) projects, but the tacit promise of having some tangible input into the creative process that makes initiatives like Legion M interesting to me. Currently, they seem to be both actively selling this, and stalling on delivering it in a meaningful way. So, you will see in many Q&As funders asking about when they might be able to submit scripts or actively shape content and the answer is typically “soon/we will let you know.” Alternately, they have run numerous “pitch elevator” contests, but I haven’t seen any actively commitment to produce this content. For my paper at SCMS in March I will be digging into the ways in which both the forward facing elements of Legion M (e.g. website, promo videos, events) and the personal messaging to fanancers shapes these expectations.

Welcome to Night Vale Tarot Deck by Jay Holloway "bonesnail"
Tanya Zuk

It is so nice for artists when companies embrace (and often canonize) their creativity. One of my favourite examples (which I’ve been working on lately) would be Kevin Tancharoen and his work in the Mortal Kombat franchise. In 2010, Tancharoen made a short film named ‘Mortal Kombat: Rebirth’, and put in on YouTube, which made the audience think it was a trailer for an actual movie. After receiving positive feedback for his work and vision of the MK universe, Tancharoen received permission by Warner Bros. to film a web series.

Legion M logo

This is a very interesting case presented here. The duality of fan/funder is a characteristic of the contemporary media landscape, and certainly not to be neglected. However, by reading about how initiatives like Legion M work, I surely have a few concerns about issues regarding decision-making and hierarchy in such communities. I also wonder if there are other cases of fan-ancing in which fans have a bigger say in the creative process. In any case, thank you for bringing this example up; it is quite useful for my research as well.